Archive for the ‘Thriller’ Category

victoria-2015-Sebastian-Schipper-06Once upon a time there was a German film called Run, Lola, Run that become something of a global sensation for its frenetic pace, its inventive storytelling, and its sheer novelty. Seventeen years later, we have another German film, Victoria, that also deals with a ne’er-do-well in a difficult situation who looks to a woman as the solution to his troubles. What’s more, Victoria boasts its own cinematic gimmicks, as the movie was purportedly filmed in one take and meant to play out in real time. And the writer and director of Victoria, Sebastian Schipper, even appeared in the cast of Run, Lola, Run. (more…)

The LoftThe Loft is a serviceable thriller with a cast culled largely from American television and enough twists for the audience to overlook its uneven pace and its tenuous logic.

Five male friends decide to share a condominium for their extracurricular and extramarital activities, and it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. In this genre, it’s invariably a dead naked blonde wrapped in bed sheets who gets the short end. Which of the five is responsible or is someone outside the group trying to set one or more of them up are the questions that drive the action. (more…)

FaultsFaults, an out of the mainstream effort detailing an attempt to rescue a young woman from a cult, appears to have been made in the 1970’s as an ABC Movie of the Week and kept in a time capsule until its release on the festival circuit in 2014. Take the stray cell phone and the recent automobiles out of the picture, and you have a period piece that is better suited for a time and place that no longer exists.

Kids into cults seems a bit passé. The hippie phenomena of the 60’s spilled over into the communes of the 70’s, and parents saw their children play out the ageless act of rebellion first through drugs and then through philosophies; in either case, it meant the young leaving the old behind. While cults remain a phenomenon, they generally break into the mainstream press now only through apocalyptic predictions or tragic acts of self-destruction. (more…)

BTW2The would-be teen noir thriller Bad Turn Worse was shown under the even more awkward title We Gotta Get Out of This Place at the 2014 Fantasy Filmfest. The new name is an improvement in that it is both more concise and a more accurate summation of the plot trajectory of this underwhelming little movie. For all its faults, Bad Turn Worse can now boast of truth in advertising as this movie starts out bad and, oh yeah, turns worse. A traditional premise that could have made for reasonable entertainment is undone by poor casting and a weak script.

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Kung-Fu-Jungle-Still-3Immediately after the conclusion of Kung Fu Jungle and just prior to the rolling of the credits, a dedication to all those who have worked in front of and behind the cameras to make Hong Kong action cinema the uniquely entertaining genre it has become is shown on the screen. Brief clips of these pioneers are presented with identifying graphics. Many have cameo appearances in the film; some have passed away. Director Teddy Chan explained in a Q&A session after the world premiere of Kung Fu Jungle at the London Film Festival that he wished to pay tribute to the unsung heroes of the industry, many of whom began in the business before green screens and CGI, when the stunts were real and dangerous.

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Gone Girl“Did he do it?” is only the beginning of this one.

If you are at all inclined to see Gone Girl, and you should be, considering that along with Boyhood, it is one of the two best American films of 2014 so far, go to the theater immediately. It is a movie that begs to be spoiled. While there is no single “Luke, I am your father” moment, the story has so many twists and turns that even the most innocuous of commentaries, the most restrained of reviews, the briefest of clips runs the risk of ruining the fun. And that’s what this is: glorious, gorgeous, edge of the seat, what the heck is going on, bravura filmmaking fun.

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in-darkness-we-fallThe only good that could possible come out of widespread viewing of the latest group underground, found footage, schlock horror film known as La cueva or In Darkness We Fall is if audiences united after suffering through it and demanded a moratorium on trapped underground movies or found footage movies or, at a minimum, trapped underground found footage movies. It’s not going to happen, but it is nice to think that every film, not matter how awful, has an opportunity to make a lasting contribution to the arts.

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the-mule-movieLaws are laws (and the law is paramount in the new Australian black comedy crime flick, The Mule), but unwritten rules can be nearly as important. The applicable unwritten rule here is that one-note genre films should not run longer than 85 or 90 minutes. The Mule clocks in at 103 minutes, and that extra time, devoted almost exclusively to waiting for the main character to have a bowel movement, constipates the narrative. Its excessive length, the most common fault in modern cinema, is the only serious shortcoming in an uncomfortably original film from Down Under that dwells on activities down under. (more…)

ReclaimJohn Cusack is in the midst of one of the more fascinating contemporary Hollywood careers. At 48 years of age, Cusack has already appeared in over 70 motion pictures – often in the lead – covering an almost unfathomable range of genres. He has appeared in action films (Con Air and 2012), comedies (Hot Tub Time Machine and Better Off Dead), art house fare (The Paperboy and Bob Roberts), romcom (Say Anything), horror (1408), drama (The Butler), and satire (War). That list is hardly inclusive as it omits some of the more notable films featuring Cusack, including: Sixteen Candles, Broadcast News, Eight Men Out, The Player, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, The Thin Red Line, Being John Malkovich, High Fidelity, and Adaptation.

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Open WindowsIf you try very hard, you can make a case for Open Windows to be a cyber-inspired reimagining of Rear Window. In the 21st century, laptops, smart phones, and surveillance cameras are to us what a telephoto lens and an apartment window were to Americans in the 1950’s: a means to look into the living rooms and bedrooms of our neighbors. That would make Elijah Wood this generation’s Jimmy Stewart, and Wood does carry some of the same nebbish Everyman qualities, though his characters, to date, have not shown the same flinty internal strength. Where this imagined connection between movies falters is with Sasha Grey as a stand-in for Grace Kelly, or Nacho Vigalando for Alfred Hitchcock. Still, Rear Window was a gimmick movie as is Open Windows. The difference is that in Hitchcock’s masterpiece, the gimmick is used to introduce the action; in Vigalando’s rather ordinary effort, the gimmick overwhelms the action.

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